I am a savvy shopper when it comes to holidays. I want the best deal possible but also, I want to make the most of my time travelling. If you’re spending 6 plus hours on a flight, it makes sense to see as much as possible, rather than wishing you did or saw something. So, treating each destination as a once in a lifetime trip means you’re more motivated to do it all.
However, a multi-centre holiday can make the price your holiday skyrocket. Even if you’re only travelling from one city to the next in the same country.
What is a multi-centre holiday?
A multi-city or multi-destination holiday allows you to visit several places in a single trip. You may fly into one city and then fly or travel by car, bus or train to another, or a couple of other cities and then fly home from a different airport. Or you may fly into one airport, stay in that area for a bit, book a stay in a different part of the country and then travel back to fly out of the same airport. Either of these would be classed as a multi-centre holiday.
Why are multi-centre holidays more expensive?
From our experience, there a are a couple of reasons multi-centre holidays are more expensive:
Flights are always cheaper when you book a return. Do a simple search on Google Flights, Skyscanner or any of the airline’s websites directly for a one-way trip and then do the same for a return. Generally speaking, you’re looking at paying 3 times as much for a one-way flight as you do for a return. A lot of this is because of scheduling. It’s more convenient for airlines to plan the number of flights, staffing, schedules etc. if they know how many to expect on each flight. For this convenience, return flights are that much cheaper. Even on a package holiday one-fly flights will be a costly expense to your holiday.
Much like flights, travel agents and operatives negotiate packages with hotels and accommodation providers about 12-18 months in advance. This is so they can get the best deals possible. Of course, these rooms/packages are usually contingent on a certain number of nights. As such, if you’re doing a multi-centre holiday, you’re unlikely to stay at that hotel/resort for expected duration and as such, it’s more expensive.
When you’re doing multi-destination holidays, you need to get from place to place. If you’re not hiring a car, you’re looking at transfers and possibly a private one at that. In other instances, you’ll need to arrange an internal flight because your locations are that far apart. All these additions can be costly.
Travel agents will map out the itinerary of your multi-centre holiday, so entails minimum research on your part, but it comes at a cost. They’ll also have their own agents that they need to work with to deliver you a holiday package. Sometimes, there are be 2 or 3 organisations involved in the planning of your vacation and makes it difficult to negotiate a better rate. Each additional service that incurs fees will be passed on to you. Of course, multi-centre holidays are more commonplace now and agents are working to offer more extensive multi-centre holidays at better rates. However, these are still very costly. We should point out though, that one benefit of using an agent is you’re likely to have holiday protection such as ATOL and ABTA with your booking.
How can you get a multi-centre holiday cheaper?
If you like the idea of the peace of mind that comes with an agent, there are a few ways in which you can save a little on a multi-centre holiday. Like, sometimes, it is actually cheaper to pay for accommodation twice.
For example, when we went to Sri Lanka, we booked a package holiday in a resort for 7 nights. However, as Sri Lanka is a dispersed country, and you want to see lots of it, you have to travel around. So, we booked an excursion that included a tour and an overnight stay so we could visit other parts of the country. Doing it this way saved hundreds of pounds.
Cuba is another example. Cuba is often sold as a multi-centre holiday. This is because travellers generally want to spend some time in Havana and then the rest of their trip in a lovely beach resort. To save money here, you may book your return flights and resort stay but coordinate an excursion with an overnight stay to Havana or simply do it as a day trip- which is possible in some locations. This could save you thousands of pounds.
As agents work best on package holidays (a package holiday is a flight and car, flight and hotel, accommodation and car or any two of these components). So, if you’re looking to use an agent, you’re better off booking components or even the whole trip with the agent and then making accommodations yourself to see and do what you want to do.
You could always do a DIY approach and book the break yourself
If you have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to go, booking it all yourself can save you thousands of pounds. And it’s not as complicated as it sounds. We just recommend mapping out your itinerary and working on your timings before committing with a booking, just to make sure it all tallies up.
Saving money on flights
When it comes to flights, as highlighted, booking a return trip can save hundreds of pounds. But we don’t necessarily mean you have to use the same airports.
Most airlines now offer multi-city or multi-centre flights (its an option usually found within single or round-trip section). As such, you can fly from one airport into another and fly back from a different airport. This is still classed as a return even if you went (for example) from London Heathrow to San Francisco and from Seattle back to London. So, you can organise your own multi-centre holiday and not pay anymore for the flights to do so.
Saving money on hotels
When it comes to hotels, take advantage of free cancellation. Expedia and booking.com are just a couple of the online operators that have such a policy. This will not only help you to secure the best price but allow you to keep your plans flexible.
Protecting your holiday
Additionally, for added protection, if you’re using Google Flights or Skyscanner, review the agent, tour operator or airline before committing to a booking. Check out their reputation and see if they are protected. This ensures that if something happened to the airline before or during your holiday, you can rest assured there will be some cover to protect you- whether it’s putting you on a different flight or giving you your money back.
Finally, always ensure you take out travel insurance at the point of booking. If something happens that means you can no longer go on your trip or an operator goes into administration, you have protection to ensure you get some of your money back or have alternative arrangements made for your trip.
We hope this information has proved helpful. This information is from my personal experience and the extensive research I do when it comes to travelling (just ask my partner and friends!). Below, you’ll find more of our travel related features; recommendations on where to travel this year and how to get the best deals.
Have you booked a multi-centre holiday before? What have your experiences been like? Did you DIY or go through an agent?
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